Exotic Animal Club for Kids at Community Veterinary Clinic

Cara Hallam

Forget about cats and dogs. At Exotic Animal Club for Kids, it's all about the creepy, the crawly, and – occasionally – the fluffy.

Every second Tuesday, kids and their parents join together at Turlock's Community Veterinary Clinic to spend a fun and educational hour with Dr. Brandon Barrett. The mission: to learn about various exotic pets at the Exotic Animal Club for Kids.

This month’s event taught children about rabbits, while prior events have discussed snakes, lizards, and tarantulas. Although the monthly event is directed towards children, Dr. Barrett said that parents usually learn a lot as well.

With about twenty children present, Dr. Barrett and his associates, including his wife Tonia, began the evening by showing a short film about rabbits that featured his two sons, Grey and Liam. Dr. Barrett and his family make the films in a series titled “Animal Life” that examine fun and interesting facts about each month’s featured animal. Since this month’s topic was rabbits, children were also given carrots and ranch dressing dip to munch on while watching the movie.

“Rabbit teeth never stop growing,” said Dr. Barrett’s 6 year old son, Grey, during the film. “They nibble on things so their teeth don’t get too long so they don’t fit in it’s mouth anymore. Also, so it won’t look like a beaver-bunny.”

Grey also discussed how rabbit ears help the animal get rid of excess body heat, and even compared it to how a radiator in a vehicle works.

After the film, Dr. Barrett asked the participants various questions which many children were eager to answer.

Following a question and answer period, Dr. Barrett brought out Thumper, one of the rabbits at the clinic, and performed a physical exam on him while the children watched.

Using an iPhone app and a stethoscope Dr. Barrett showed students the electrical impulses from the rabbit’s heart. He also used a camera that was placed in the rabbit’s mouth and ears to show the students the inside of the mouth and the eardrums of the rabbit on a large television screen.

The students were also given the opportunity to pet the rabbit, while parents snapped photos.

At the end of the evening, Dr. Barrett reminded children to never touch animals that they do not know, and to always ask other adults for permission before petting their animals so they are not accidentally bitten.

Dr. Barrett received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of California, Davis in 2001 and has been working at Community Veterinary Clinic in Turlock ever since. He treats both small animals and exotic species, such as birds, reptiles, amphibians, rodents and rabbits.

To learn more about the Community Veterinary Clinic, or to find out more about the Exotic Animal Club for Kids, visit www.turlockvet.com or call (209) 634-5851.

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